The CW’s adaptation of classic DC superheroes in the interconnected universe that started with Arrow hasn’t always been super faithful to the comics. Oliver Queen tends to act more like Bruce Wayne than the Green Arrow, and Barry Allen has more than tinge of the comic version of Wally West in him. Despite not being the most accurate portrayals, the Arrowverse has produced some of the best comic book characters that have been seen in live-action, in any format. Between Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, and Legends of Tomorrow, it’s created some of the best superheroes on TV, arguably surpassing the MCU’s TV offerings and even (some of) the characters in the DCEU.
Despite all the successes of the Arrowverse, there have been missteps. For every awesome character like Sara Lance there is an equally dreadful role that leaves everyone watching at home scratching their head. Whether they are just a disappointing adaptation of a more accomplished comic book figure, someone who is poorly written/acted, or all of the above, the Arrowverse has seen nearly as many terrible characters as great ones.
Here are the 15 Worst Characters from the Arrowverse.
15. Iris West
Throughout The Flash’s three seasons, Iris has not been without her moments. Most of these are thanks to Candice Patton’s severely underrated acting skills. Yet the future wife of The Flash (probably) is still waiting to get promoted out of the “just a love interest” camp.
Since the very beginning of The Flash, Iris’ identity has been mostly wrapped up in her relationship to Barry. The biggest reason to care about Iris as a character is all about her romance with Barry. It’s not a great position to put any character in, but specifically not the female lead of the show. Iris has been shunted the sidelines so much that in season 3, she was basically reduced to a plot device, as Barry and the gang had to prevent her death, with Iris being able to do little to nothing to change her fate.
As The Flash heads into season 4, there might be some hope for Iris. Barry is trapped in the Speed Force, and Iris will have to discover what it means to live without Barry Allen. Perhaps in season 4, The Flash will finally get Iris back to her journalism career that’s supposed to be her passion in life … or just give her scenes that doesn’t involve picking up a mopey Barry.
14. Ray Palmer
Ray Palmer is technically a superhero. He can do things no other regular human can and is a member of the unsung heroes of the Arrowverse, the Legends of Tomorrow. But despite toting a super-genius IQ and an incredible super-suit, Ray is an enormously sloppy idiot. Ray is a good platform for Brandon Routh to tap into his goofy charm, but literally nothing else.
Half of the problems in Legends of Tomorrow are directly or indirectly caused by Ray doing something reckless. If he’s asked to do anything but shrink himself, he is probably going to bungle it all for the sake of “comedy.” The Legends are all about being lovable losers, and Ray definitely has one of those down, but it’s not the one that anyone would hope for.
That might seem harsh to some, as Ray is a largely inoffensive presence. Still, that hasn’t stopped Arrow or Legends of Tomorrow from treating him like the definition of “a catch.” In season 3 of Arrow and season 1 of Legends of Tomorrow, Ray’s big storyline was a romance with a female character, and both stories were equally horrible for different reasons. Ray basically stalked Felicity, forcing her into a relationship, and his Legends love, Kendra, was a total personality vacuum.
13. Eddie Thawne
Here’s a cruel but fair analysis: the best thing Eddie Thawne ever did on The Flash was die. Eddie filled the role that Tommy Merlyn created in Arrow season 1, being a series regular that was created specifically to be killed off in the season finale. Since Tommy came first, though, his death managed to be shocking as well as impactful. Eddie was just checking off a box in The Flash‘s inaugural outing.
It also doesn’t help that before his tragic but heroic death, Eddie was a significantly lame character. He was likable, sure, but only in a bland and meaningless sort of way. Eddie was the other guy; he was with Iris, and Barry was not with Iris. This was the sum of Eddie’s character before he was killed off, and it was a tale as clichéd as time.
Season 1 of The Flash, the only time that Eddie was a series regular, might be the series’ best year, but Eddie had little to nothing to do with its quality. The group dynamics were much less fractured and entertaining once Eddie was taken out of the picture.
12. Laurel Lance
Arrow’s second Canary, and first Black Canary, is not without her fans. Yet those who fondly remember Oliver’s now departed first love are just thinking about her final days on the show. Before Laurel was killed off in season 4, she had a resurgence, and had finally become a character that deserved the iconic title of Black Canary. In the previous three seasons, Dinah Laurel Lance was a hot mess of a character.
Rather than being the fiercely independent and incredibly badass Black Canary, Laurel was the constant damsel in distress. Laurel waffled between worshiping Oliver’s alter ego and thinking he was the antichrist. Before Arrow ditched Laurel for Felicity as Oliver’s primary love interest, the character displayed every trope of every romance option in every superhero movie. Laurel was sassy without being too snappy or abrasive, she had an insane attachment to a man that did not treat her well at all, and she gave lip service about not needing to be saved but did nothing to save herself.
On top of it all, Katie Cassidy is a much more entertaining screen presence playing Laurel’s Earth-2 counterpart, The Black Siren. When the “evil twin” is more compelling that the original character, there are serious problems.
11. Susan Williams
Another Oliver Queen love interest and another character with a personality as flat as paint chips. Susan Williams was, by far, the worst part of Arrow season 5. Susan was Oliver’s big rebound relationship after Felicity. While Felicity’s own rebound, Billy, wasn’t much better, he had least had the decency to get killed off. Susan stuck around for almost the entire season and did nothing to add to or improve it.
Susan wasn’t just boring, she was boring and inconsistent. This should be a complete paradox, but Susan pulled it off. Susan first appeared to be some wily and dogged reporter who was going to expose Ollie’s every secret. Yet the second that they ended up in bed together — which should have been a huge ethical violation as she was reporting on Oliver and his administration at the time — any edge or interest to Susan washed away.
Arrow never gave audiences a reason to care about Susan other than the fact that she was sleeping with Oliver. Arrow also never gave Oliver a reason to care about Susan other than, well, the fact that she was sleeping with him. Maybe Susan can be salvaged in season 6, but it’s probably best to let this wet rag love interest lie where she may.
The Flash’s Barry Allen can be an enormous idiot at times. Yet due to a combination of strong writing and an even stronger performance by Grant Gustin, Barry’s embarrassing moments can still make for great character moments. Barry Allen is a hot mess, but he’s an interesting hot mess. The same cannot be said of his doppelganger and season 3 villain, Savitar.
Savitar does have a compelling, albeit confusing, backstory. He is not just a future version of Barry Allen, he is a time remnant of a future version of the character who was abandoned because he’s not the “real” Barry. The problem is that complicated history was delivered in one very short scene of exposition. The Flash never bothered to flesh Savitar out beyond evil Barry Allen.
Savitar should have been a way for The Flash to really dive into Barry’s psyche and explain how a good guy can go so bad. None of that happened. Savitar was just a way for Grant Gustin to snarl a lot and wear burn make-up. After a fantastic villain in Reverse Flash and an alright one with Zoom, Savitar was a crushing disappointment.
9. Taiana Venediktov
If you don’t recognize the name, no Arrow fan is going to blame you. Taiana was a huge part of Arrow season 4, but collectively, the fandom pretty much referred to her as “that Russian girl in the flashbacks.” As Oliver’s confidant and partner, Taiana was designed to be the heart of the season’s flashback story. It is Taiana’s death that spurs Oliver to get revenge on the Bratva in season 5. Taiana was intended to be the season 4 version of Sara Lance, but she never got close to that level of characterization.
Taiana was incredibly boring, she had no personality besides “nice”, and she had no discernible chemistry whatsoever with Stephen Amell’s Oliver. Taiana was in almost every episode of Arrow season 4, but the audience learned almost nothing about her before she was killed, besides the fact that she was Russian (a fact that was obvious the moment she opened her mouth).
Arrow has had a lot of female characters pass through Oliver’s life, and he sets out to care for or protect them. There was never a really an effort made to make the audience care about any of these damsels, however. With Taiana, Arrow wanted people to like her, but most people don’t even know her name.
8. The Count
No one can accuse actor Seth Gabel of not trying to make his character, Arrow season 1 and season 2 villain The Count, work. Gabel just did way too much. The Count is the ultimate example of less is more. This baddie was hyper and incredibly reactive, but he was also tremendously annoying. Being a villain, The Count didn’t need to be likable, but he at least needed to seem like an actual human being, not the personification of the effects of cocaine.
Part Heath Ledger’s Joker and part preschool brat with ADHD, The Count was more of a nuisance than a real obstacle for Oliver Queen. His twitchy drug dealing ways weren’t that difficult for Oliver to deal with, and it was obvious from his very first scene. The Count and The Arrow barely shared the screen in the first two seasons, and on one of the few occasions they did come face to face, Oliver killed him in seconds.
Supergirl has a serious main villain problem. For both of its seasons, the series has had Kara go up against pale imitations of General Zod from any Superman movie reboot. A superpowered alien invades Earth and Kara must fight them off. While Astra and Rhea at least had Laura Benati and Teri Hatcher, respectively, hamming it up, Non was a brick wall.
As Season 1’s main baddie, Non showed no emotion throughout the inaugural year of the Girl of Steel’s TV adventures. There is nothing inherently wrong with a Terminator-esque villain who doggedly goes after his goal, but Non was not nearly as impressive or scary as Supergirl seemed to believe. Non didn’t make anyone scared, he made them drowsy.
Any scene with Non was just an exercise in exhaustion. Non would give a long wooden monologue and Kara would react with way more emotion than she was getting in return. Supergirl tried to fix Non’s personality abyss problem by giving him an evil sidekick in Indigo, but even that didn’t work. Indigo didn’t spice up Non scenes, they just made them doubly aggravating, as she was Non’s polar opposite in the worst way possible.
6. Evelyn Sharp
Evelyn is a deeply confusing character. She entered Arrow viewers’ lives as a girl who so idolized the Black Canary that she wanted to take up the mantle herself one day. The only problem is that Evelyn really, really wanted to murder people too. Oliver had to talk Evelyn down off the homicidal ledge, where she learned that killing isn’t always the answer. Evelyn then joined Team Arrow as the new hero Artemis. Upon learning that Oliver had killed people as the Arrow, though, Evelyn was disgusted and decided to get payback against Ollie by teaming up with a literal serial killer, Prometheus.
It’s impossible to chart a throughline with Evelyn’s arc or morality, and not because it’s so complex and layered. It simply doesn’t exist. Evelyn is a character who has been whatever Arrow needed her to be whenever they needed her to be it.
Evelyn was Oliver’s surrogate daughter/kid sister. She was Prometheus’ surrogate daughter/kid sister. She is alright with murder, and then she is repulsed by murder. The one thing Evelyn has never been is interesting.
5. H.R. Wells
The third time was not a charm for Harrison Wells on The Flash. (Technically it was the fourth time, as Tom Cavanagh briefly played the original Harrison Wells from Earth-1 in season 1, but there’s no expression about the fourth time being the charm.) The new Harrison Wells that was introduced in season 3 of The Flash, H.R., was a terrible disappointment.
In season 1 and season 2, Cavanagh got to play perhaps the best character of each season with two very different versions of Harrison Wells. In season 3, H.R. was perhaps the worst character of the season. H.R. was the horrible comedic relief type of character whose nervous ticks and ramblings go from mildly amusing to ear-bleeding irritating. H.R. just needed to do something quirky in every scene, and it was way too much. He added nothing to Team Flash, and had to be constantly saved from his own stupidity and mistakes by the team.
It’s true that H.R. did save the day in season 3, sacrificing himself in place of Iris West. Yet this one small act of heroism doesn’t make up for a whole season of lame coffee jokes, drumstick fetishes, and campy mugging to the camera.
4. James Olsen
There is no character in the Arrowverse that has proved to be more lost and meaningless than James Olsen on Supergirl. Since Winn Schott has filled the usual Jimmy Olsen role as the nerdy, funny best friend character, that’s left the actual Jimmy with a severe identity crisis. For two seasons, James has done almost nothing but stand around and be incredibly handsome.
In Supergirl season 2, the show attempted to make James work by having him suit up as the DC superhero Guardian, but it was big flop. The Guardian subplot was barely a blip on the radar. No one but Kara really cared that James was risking his life on a nightly basis fighting crime, and even Kara’s investment lasted barely more than a couple episodes.
Supergirl has no idea what to do with James, so he’s bounced around from storyline to storyline, never finding a home. If he didn’t have the name of such an iconic character, he likely would have written off long ago. Yet since he bares the name Jimmy Olsen, but shares nothing with him other than some photography skills, fans are likely in store for a few more years of James doing whatever it is that James does on Supergirl.
3. Ra’s al Ghul
The granddaddy of all assassins and Arrow’s season 3 baddie, Ra’s al Ghul made a strong first impression. After stabbing Oliver in the chest and kicking him down a cliff in the episode “The Climb”, it seemed like Arrow had done the impossible and topped Slade Wilson as a villain. Sadly, Ra’s al Ghul’s entire arc was all downhill after that climatic sword battle.
Outside of that one scene, Ra’s was neither as wise, cunning, or fearsome as he should have been on Arrow. He was less the perfect human specimen and more of a dude who lived in cave, sulked, and had perpetually wet-looking hair. Arrow was attempting a reserved and calculating master of martial arts, but delivered a snoozefest.
Ra’s al Ghul was properly introduced on Arrow in the same season that The Flash was getting off the ground running with its metahuman craziness. Ra’s and his Lazarus Pit should have been Arrow’s cue to get into the weirder side of comics just like The Flash. Instead, Arrow did the most straightforward and least interesting take on Ra’s al Ghul ever. Ra’s might have been incredibly old and virtually immortal, but he was also precisely as dynamic as a drugged out great-grandpa.
2. Vandal Savage
Evidently, the Arrowverse does not deal with villains that can live forever particularly well. The idea of having the immortal Vandal Savage be the main villain of the time-traveling crew of Legends of Tomorrow was brilliant. The execution was dreadful. Savage at least showed more personality than Ra’s al Ghul, but Legends never bothered to really develop their big bad in season 1.
Vandal Savage’s central motivation was that he was in love with Hawkgirl. All Savage cared about was making Chay-Ara fall in love with him and causing as much mayhem as possible along the way. This is a far cry from the character from the comics, who is ruthless, cunning, and always one step ahead. Vandal Savage charged into every situation with the Legends with a ridiculous amount of recklessness. Since he couldn’t die, there was no sense of tension to any of Vandal Savage’s battles before the season 1 finale.
Legends’ Vandal Savage had a sick widow’s peak and beard, but that was about all he had going for him. His idea of charisma was doing a very creepy full-face smile, and none of his villainous taunting ever rose above a grade-school level of wit.
Theory: perhaps the reason why Vandal made for such an extraordinary unsatisfactory villain is that the object of his desire was just so tedious. Hawkgirl, Kendra Saunder, Chay-Ara … no matter what you call Ciara Renée’s character on Legends of Tomorrow, it doesn’t stop her from being the worst that the Arrowverse has had to offer. Kendra’s entire character can be pretty accurately summed up by her not knowing anything. About anything.
The idea to separate Hawkgirl from Hawkman early in Legends of Tomorrow was a smart one, as outside of Justice League and Justice League Unlimited, Hawkgirl has always been too deeply tied to her similarly-named male counterpart. Legends just had no idea what to do with Kendra besides having her insist in every episode that she was just a barista. Despite being arguably the most powerful member of the Legends of Tomorrow team, Hawkgirl rarely did anything but look confused and ask angry questions.
Legends of Tomorrow did allow Kendra the killing blow on Vandal Savage, which made her the ultimate hero of the story. It was a moment that wasn’t in any way earned, however, because it had been preceded by an entire season of doe-eyed confusion and ill-conceived romantic subplots. It was a relief when Kendra quietly exited the team at the end of season 1, hopefully never to return.
Who are your least favorite heroes and villains from the Arrowverse? Sound off the comments!
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